How Cloud Computing Can Save Your Company From Downtime and Disaster

If there’s one thing that can cripple a business, it’s downtime. Web hosts sell their services with uptime guarantees for a reason. Every business critical service needs to be online when people are working; increasingly, that means it must be up 24/7/365.

Achieving 100 per cent uptime is extremely difficult; so called ‘Acts of God’ can take out racks of server in a flash. Yet despite its reliance on off-premise data centres, the cloud is your best bet for keeping essential services online, and ensuring constant access to the services and information you need.

Cloud redundancy

Cloud platforms are inherently robust. In fact, they were designed to withstand catastrophe. Instead of storing data in one place, software distributes cloned copies among a group, or farm, of servers. If one server goes down, the others are able to step in and cover for it, creating a seamless experience for your business.

There are rare examples of cloud downtime, but these are unusual enough to hit the headlines. All cloud providers invest in constant system monitoring to keep the chance of downtime to an absolute minimum. Cloud redundancy is still exceptionally good, particularly when you consider the cost of obtaining anywhere near the same uptime figures in the pre-cloud era.

Protecting your profits

Occasionally, your users will encounter issues with internal infrastructure. The power goes out, the phones go down, or the heating system fails completely. Prior to cloud migration, these kinds of catastrophes would have forced a complete business shutdown. Now, the cloud allows us to come up with workarounds.

If you have hosted desktops, your employees can work elsewhere, irrespective of whether their main PC is functional. If you use cloud backup for files, those files are synced to multiple devices, so you can access them from home in a pinch. In a disaster, you can keep working, avoid losing touch with customers, and keep the emails flowing using your reliable hosted Exchange service.

The Cost of Downtime and Disaster

Different businesses have different concepts of downtime, so it’s difficult to measure the cost of critical systems going offline. However, industry estimates give us some idea of the compounding effect of unavailable services.

The Ponemon institute estimates that unplanned downtime cost US businesses $5,600 per minute. For the world’s largest companies, it could be double that amount. While your business may be operating on a smaller scale, there is always a financial penalty when critical services are unavailable, and you will lose revenue if you don’t act fast.

Trust Cloud4

Cloud4 offers SLAs you can rely on, and we provide round the clock support so that your calls never go unanswered. Whatever the scale of your business, we’re here to assist you in keeping business critical services online. To find out more, contact our friendly team today, and have a chat about cloud migration. It could cost less than you think, and prevent huge unexpected cost if the worst does happen.

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Have You Got a Disaster Recovery Plan?

Enterprise level clients have disaster recovery procedures as a matter of course. When you have thousands of clients, and the pressure of regulatory compliance, it would be unthinkable to operate IT systems without some kind of ‘plan B’ in place. For the smaller business, disaster recovery features less prominently in the IT strategy; many don’t have a plan at all.

In fact, SMEs are more vulnerable when outages occur, since it doesn’t take much to wipe out critical systems. If your computer updates itself and the result isn’t pretty, could you feasibly continue – ‘business as usual’ – the next day?

The Bare Necessities

Your idea of essential services will vary from your peers’, but there are a few systems which every business needs to be up and running. Remove any of these tomorrow, and the whole house of cards would come crashing down:

– Email

– Telephone systems

– CRM systems

– Desktop operating systems

– Vital infrastructure (such as the internet connection that links you to the outside world)

You might assume that you have a fairly good handle on things, given that you oversee and run all of these systems yourself. Unfortunately, this can leave you wide open to unexpected disruption, and your competitors will not fail to take advantage if your customers are forced to look elsewhere.

Affordable Disaster Recovery

For small businesses, running your IT as lean as possible is key to managing cost. While it would be nice to have spare servers, internet connections and computers lying around, that isn’t practical for the vast majority.

Cloud computing has made disaster recovery much more accessible, and that’s mainly because of the huge economy of scale. If you use hosted services, you can purchase a tiny share of overall capacity, but benefit from the same comprehensive disaster recovery plans as bigger clients. The secondary benefit is that someone else handles the technical side for you.

Take email for example: it’s probably the most crucial system in a business’ lifecycle. Let’s say your mailbox is corrupted. If that mailbox is located on your local server, you own the problem, and your email won’t work until it’s resolved. If you use a service like hosted Exchange, your mailbox is stored remotely on your service provider’s server; they are responsible for its uptime.

The hosted Exchange provider continually monitors and scans that mailbox for viruses. It’s less likely to experience a problem because it’s proactively managed and secured. But if the worst happens, the host’s cloud-based infrastructure means it can bring another copy online. You didn’t have to pay for another server, or find an out-of-hours engineer to sort it out.

There are other good examples of cloud infrastructure providing disaster recovery. The hosted desktop is a good one. Unlike your local desktop, the hosted desktop is stored remotely, backed up several times, and can be replaced with a clone if the worst does happen.

Take Action

Small businesses know that disaster recovery plans are expensive. That’s no reason to ignore the threat and hope it goes away. By moving towards a cloud-based infrastructure, you can automatically protect yourself against the risk of DR, ensuring continuity in the services that matter most.

Cloud4 helps thousands of businesses reach their full potential with affordable, innovative cloud services. If you don’t have a disaster recovery plan, don’t wait until the worst happens. Contact us today, and we’ll talk you through the options.